Study confirms megayacht industry growth

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The megayacht industry has increased 53 percent over the last five years in southern Florida and has tripled over the past decade, according to a recent study by Thomas J. Murray & Associates.

The study reaffirmed that the South Florida region — which consists of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — is at the forefront of expanding the worldwide growth and related business activity associated with megayachts, which are vessels that are 80 feet or larger.

“Since 1997, the worldwide fleet of mega yachts has nearly doubled, and the number of mega yachts present in South Florida’s waterways has increased from 800 20 years ago to 1,800 today, consuming much of the available inventory of adequate dockage, and creating a cluster of broad-spectrum talent that other states like Georgia, Virginia, and Rhode Island are competing to capture,” said Marine Industries Association of South Florida president and CEO Phil Purcell in a statement.

A median-sized megayacht of 140 feet spends more than $2 million annually, provides $146,000 in state and local taxes, and contributes $362,000 in total federal taxes.

The study concluded that 13,000 new mega yachts have been constructed since 1997, with 8,500 being built since 2007, and 46 percent of those being constructed in Italy.

Florida legislative actions have provided competitive advantages to the local $8.8 billion marine industry, said Bob Swindell, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

Those actions include the 2010 sales and use tax cap that increased the collection of tax and generated more than $13.46 million in direct sales tax revenue.

They also include the 2015 refit and repair tax cap that is attributed to the increase in major refit projects from an average of $66,000 to as high as $2.7 million, Swindell said.

The recently-created recreational boating Foreign Trade Zone has also given the state a competitive advantage, he said.

Purcell noted the number of vessels larger than 65 feet more than doubled in the region, as did the average sales price, and new refit activity generated more than three times the anticipated public revenues, due primarily to the public policy initiatives.

The study also confirmed that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, owned by MIASF, generates an estimated $857 million in economic impact to the state of Florida annually.

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